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Medical transport driver shortage causing Mid-South residents to miss appointments

“Every time I try to go to my doctor’s appointments, my transportation doesn’t show up. If they show up, they’re too late,” said Modie Dolgia, a Memphis resident.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — All Modie Dolgia wants is to walk again. 

“Yeah, I’ve been through something, honey,” said Dolgia, an elderly Memphis resident. 

Complications from surgery caused Dolgia to need a wheelchair. The possibility to walk again isn’t solely on the hands of the doctors, but rather the ability to get to the doctor.

“Every time I try to go to my doctor’s appointments, my transportation doesn’t show up. If they show up, they’re too late,” said Dolgia.

She books her medical transport through Tennessee Carriers. Dolgia had two appointments scheduled for this past Friday and Wednesday two weeks in advance. When Friday rolled around, Dolgia couldn’t get a ride.

“My appointment was at 3:00pm. Transportation showed up at 3:30pm,” said Dolgia.“I called transportation back to try to reschedule a ride for Monday. They told me I need a 72 hour in advance for them to book that ride…I said 'you all have wasted my whole day and you can’t accommodate me a couple of hours.'”

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When Wednesday’s appointment came, Dolgia missed it again. “I called to see which time I would be picked up. Well, we got you scheduled for today, but we don’t have a ride for you today,” said Dolgia.

With two appointments missed, Dolgia tried Uber. “They don’t have the accessible material to transport me. I tried the cab, same thing,” said Dolgia.

She said her issue is with Tennessee Carriers and their vendors. “They go all around the roseberry bush and back…They don’t have an answer for you,” said Dolgia.

Here’s how the process works. Patients contact Tennessee Carriers to schedule a transport. Tennessee Carriers reaches out to their vendor to provide transportation. That where the problem lies.

Tennessee Carriers’ CEO, Candy DeBoyrd, said vendors are short drivers. She said sometimes a ride can be scheduled, but the vendor driver simply won’t show.

“I’m very disappointed in transportation. It’s hurtful because people don’t deserve this,” said Dolgia. 

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It is an issue Tennessee Carriers is working to fix. They are offering alternative solutions such as mileage reimbursement for family and friends who provide transportation.

Dolgia said it is not enough. 

“I have a very small family. They work Monday through Friday…The way that transportation is being ran is no better than people calling elderly people’s home conning them, scamming them. They are no better.”

Dolgia said it’s time for change. “I would really like to see better management with Tennessee Carrier, better management, better vendors to come and ride us in a timely matter.”

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